Questions From Readers
● Why does not the Watchtower Society publish simplified material for parents to use in teaching their children Bible truths?—A question based upon frequent inquiries by readers.
Jehovah God lays upon the parents themselves the responsibility of teaching their children. “These instructions that I am giving you today are to be fixed in your mind; you must impress them on your children, and talk about them when you are sitting at home, and when you go off on a journey, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:6, 7, AT) Similar instructions are repeated elsewhere. (Gen. 18:17-19; Deut. 4:9, 10; 11:19-21; Ps. 78:1-8; Isa. 38:19) This principle is carried over for observance by Christian parents. After counseling children to obey their parents, the apostle Paul continues: “And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.”—Eph. 6:4, NW.
It is true that Jehovah provided a priesthood along with his Law, the members of which were to instruct the people. (Mal. 2:7) It is also true that when the Law covenant ended and Christianity was established provision was made for a new priesthood to minister to the needs of obedient peoples, including an organized “faithful and discreet slave” class today that is commissioned to “give them their food at the proper time”, spiritual food here being meant. (Matt. 24:45-47; Heb. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 20:6, NW) But from this we may not argue that the “faithful and discreet slave” class must publish special books for children. The priests in Israel did not write special scrolls for the children to study. God’s Law did not provide for special tutoring of children groups separated from adults. Young and old were to assemble together for instruction. (Deut. 31:10-13) It is the same today. The “faithful and discreet slave” serves the spiritual food and arranges for congregational meetings of various kinds to make it available to all, young and old together. Then just as the parents in Israel had to fix these things in their minds so they could later impress them upon their children, parents today must simplify and clarify the truth for their children. Neither the priestly instruction in Israel nor the “discreet slave’s” provision for the theocratic organization today was or is for children exclusively.
None of the sixty-six books of the Bible were written specially for children. From infancy Timothy was taught by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, not from some child’s study book, but from the Holy Scriptures. (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15) The typical theocracy in Israel provided no simplified study material for children. Neither was such provision made in the days of Jesus and the apostles. None need be made now. Adapting the material to the child’s mental capacities is the parent’s assignment from God. It is good for the parent. It will make the parent a diligent student himself, for one’s knowledge must be thorough in order to explain clearly and simply to others. This same knowledge can be used to good advantage in field service, with those found there that are babes in knowledge, if not in years. It would be advisable for parents to hold regular studies with their children, using the secondary articles in The Watchtower. The articles should be read and discussed, with questions being asked and answered. And using the same study publication as adults do will make the children feel more a part of the organizational arrangement, and not like a separate, inferior group.
Those parents and other adults that think children are too young to learn serious things should reflect on the following statement that is made in a pamphlet published this year on the importance of giving religious instruction to children at a very early age: “Educators insist that no child is too young to learn. Indeed, they maintain that as much is learned during the first three years as during all the rest of life!” Do they not learn a very difficult language in the first few years of life? Do not forget how difficult it is for even an adult to learn a new language. Do not underestimate the mental capacities of children. They will surprise you at what they can learn, at their grasp of things you thought beyond their powers.
Parents go witnessing and take great pains to explain and simplify the message for their home Bible studies. Why should they not delight to do the same for their children? It is the parents’ privilege, they should cherish it, they should not want it taken over by someone else. Parents live with their children, talk to them, simplify many everyday subjects for them. Why not do it with the truth also? Is anything else more important? Conduct regular studies with them, using Watch Tower publications and the Bible.
Does this mean we would not conduct studies in the field service with children other than our own? No; if we are conducting a home Bible study with persons who have children, encourage those children to sit in on the study and take part in it. If some children wish to study but their parents do not, yet the parents are willing for their children to study with us, such studies may be conducted. We do not seek to build up juvenile meetings particularly, like Sunday schools; but if some children wish to study with us and their parents have no objection, we may conduct such studies. Christ Jesus did not try to specially round up children, but when older persons in charge of children brought them to him he received them, and rebuked those who would hinder the children’s approach to him. (Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:13-16) So we may give attention to children under similar circumstances, and do so by using the study books that are prepared for young and old alike, making the message simple according to the needs of the students.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Though you may have ten thousand tutors in Christ, you certainly do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have become your father through the good news.” (1 Cor. 4:15, NW) Paul was first to give the life-giving truth to the Corinthian congregation and so was like a father or served as an agent of the heavenly Father. Tutors who later came along merely built upon the life-giving foundation Paul laid. Because of this he sometimes addressed those whom he thus helped get started in the way of life as his children to show special relationship, interest, responsibility and affection.—1 Cor. 4:17; Gal. 4:19; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philem. 10; 3 John 4.
Nevertheless, Jehovah is the great Father and the one to be formally addressed as such by all who acknowledge him as their life-giver and provider. To the “other sheep” Christ will become their Everlasting Father. (Matt. 6:9; Isa. 9:6) No others should be given such titles. Paul was not using the term “father” as a title, but as an illustration. He was using the earthly relationship in the human family to show the true picture of his position relative to the Corinthian Christians. Nowhere is he addressed as Father Paul. Peter referred to him as “our beloved brother Paul”. (2 Pet. 3:15) None of the apostles were ever addressed with the title Father. For them to be so addressed by others would have violated Jesus’ command: “Do not call anyone your father on earth, for One is your Father, the heavenly One.” The context shows he was objecting to flattering titles. (Job 32:21, 22; Matt. 23:6-12, NW) Hence Paul’s use of the illustration “father” to accurately portray his relationship to Christian congregations and individuals, and not as a creature-exalting title, was no violation of Matthew 23:9.
● Why did the March 1, 1952, Watchtower say Korah was destroyed by fire? Was he not swallowed up by the earth?—L. K., Florida.
By a careful reading of the account one sees that apparently Korah died with the 250 with the fire-pans, and not with Dathan and Abiram and their households. Korah was a Levite, and the 250 with him were Levites. They wished to take over duties of the priesthood, which was confined to the house of Aaron. Dathan and Abiram were not Levites, but were Reubenites, and they were merely supporters of Korah and his company rather than members of that aspiring band of Levites. When Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram to come to the tent of meeting, they refused, not wishing to recognize Moses as having any power to give them orders. But Korah and his 250 did appear before the tent of meeting. That Korah was with them and not with Dathan and Abiram is shown by the record: “Moses said to Korah, ‘Tomorrow you and all your company are to appear before the LORD—you, and they, and Aaron; each of you take his fire-pan, putting incense on it, each of you is to bring his fire-pan before the LORD, that is, two hundred and fifty fire-pans; you also, and Aaron, each with his fire-pan.’”
After Jehovah told Moses to have the people withdraw from the neighborhood of the dwellings of Korah and Dathan and Abiram, the account continues: “Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.” Notice that it leaves out Korah; he was at the tent of meeting and did not follow Moses when Moses went to the dwellings. Korah was of the family of Kohathites, and they were assigned to pitch their tents adjoining those of the Reubenites, and so the tent of Korah could easily be next to those of Dathan and Abiram. After the people had withdrawn from the neighborhood of these three tents, Dathan and Abiram with their wives and children stood in their doorways. Again notice that Korah is not mentioned as being present. Then, “the ground under them split open; the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with all their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah and all their goods.” These men who belonged to Korah or supported him were swallowed up, but it does not say Korah was. He was not present, but was before the tent of meeting with his 250 Levite rebels. Korah must have been disposed of along with that 250: “Fire having come forth from the LORD, it consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.” Korah was offering incense also, remember.—Num. 16:1-35, AT.
Numbers 26:10 is construed by some as proof that Korah was swallowed up by the earth, but it does not have to be taken that way, and to do so contradicts the facts of the narrative: “The same Dathan and Abiram, notable men of the assembly who contended against Moses and against Aaron in the assembly of Korah, when they contended against Yahweh; and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up—with Korah also when the assembly died—when the fire consumed two hundred and fifty men, and they became a warning.” (Nu 26 Vss. 9, 10, Ro) All suffered one thing in common, destruction at the hands of Jehovah; but some perished when the earth opened up and the others when the fire descended. Analysis of the more detailed account in Nu chapter 16 enables us to determine how the two factions perished.